Retro Review: ‘Tourist Trap’

One of the most fun things during a road trip is making an unexpected stop and a place which seems interesting. That is when they have you, because you are trapped….in a TOURIST TRAP!!!! In 1979, producer Charles Band along with screenwriters David Schmoeller and J. Larry Carroll decided to take audiences to a cinematic tourist trap. Being one of the first movies to ride the wave of modern horror the likes of John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper pioneered, has earned their film Tourist Trap a special place in the hearts of many horror fans.

A group of teens on a road trip find themselves stranded at the old wax museum owned by the charming Mr. Slausen. The old cowboy happily shows off the myriad of wax figures he claims were the work of his troubled brother. As they wait for help amid the waxwork figures, one by one they are picked off by a stranger in a chilling mask with a penchant for wax.

The pace of Tourist Trap starts slow and meticulous but it gets weird, it truly gets WEIRD. I mean that in the best possible way. In a last minute decision while filming, writer/director David Schmoeller decided that the killer should hold some kind of telekinetic abilities over the wax figures so that they may help him carry out his bloodshed. That is the level of weird here. But in a strange way it all works because the movie is just atmospheric and moody enough that the door is opened a little for a bit of a supernatural element. The main draw of the film for many is that the look of the killer is so eerie that you have to watch the movie to see what it is about. Make no mistake, this masked psycho, Jerry, has the goods. Though you may see the twist to see his identity coming, this maniac has a sadistic streak not often seen in many of his slasher colleagues. When he is describing in great detail the excruciating agony the character of Becky will go through, as she dies smothered in hot wax, it is nothing short of downright chilling.

This film is nothing short of a low budget delight that truly deserves more respect and notoriety. There quite a few solid scares in Tourist Trap and Jerry truly is a memorable horror villain. A few years ago it finally received a Blu-Ray release and since then it has popped up on a number of streaming sites reviving interest in this fun low budget horror flick.